A Prayer for Recovery
*** All Depressed Anonymous meetings begin with the Serenity prayer.***
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
What is serenity? The term is variously defined in the dictionary as calness, quietness, peace, tranquility, calmness of mind, eveness of temper, undisturbed starte coolness and composure. From a practical point of view perhaps the best defimnition is the serenity to live at peace with unsolved problems.
The Serenity prayer begins with the big word “God.” I am not an evangelist nor do I consider myself capable of advising anyone relative to spiritual matters, but I do believe that belief in a Higher Power is absolutely necessary to obtain peace of mind. To those who like me are groping for knowledge of conscious contact with such Higher Power, the following bit of verse may be of help:
“I looked for my God, but He I could not see ;
I looked for my soul, but it eluded me;
I sought my brother, and I found all three.”
The Serenity prayer speaks of “accepting the things we cannot change.” Acceptance must not be confused with apathy. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped. Apathy paralyzes the will to action; acceptance frees the will to action by relieving it of impossible burdens. Acceptance is a free ac t of the will, but to be effective we must have the moral courage to carry on in spite of the problem which is accepted as unchangeable. Acceptance liberates the acceptor by breaking the chains of self-pity. Once you accept that which is unchangeable you are free to go on to new endeavors.
It has been said that an immature mind seeks an idealistic world. Like it or not, we have to face the world of reality – and must take life as it is with all its cruelties and inconsistencies. Perhaps, in the long run, the beginning of wisdom lies in the simple admission that things are not always the way we would like them to be; that we ourselves are far from perfect, and are not so good or so kind or so hardworking as we would like to be.
In his book PEACE OF MIND, Joshua Liebman relates how as a young man he made up a list of what he considered the desirable things in life. His list included health, love, beauty, talent, power, riches and fame. With pride he showed the list to an old Rabbi who had been his spiritual director, who after examining it, said, “You have omitted the most important element of all without which each possession becomes a hideous torment and your list as a whole an intolerable burden.” Then taking his pencil he struck out the entire list and wrote, “Peace of mind.”
All the material things in the world will not buy peace of mind, and without peace of mind the material things of the world give us no enjoyment.
Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous speaks about how we can receive Light from a Prayer.
“We treasure our “Serenity Prayer” because it brings a new light to us that can dissipate our old time and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves.
In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need be no disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles before us faster than they can be taken down.”
(c) As Bill Sees it. The A.A. Way of life…selected writings of A.A.’s co-founder. Page 20.